The Goddesses Eostre & Vesna; Celebrating Ostara & the Spring Equinox, by Colleen M. Chesebro

The second celebration on the Pagan Wheel of the Year is the Spring Equinox, also called Ostara, which is named after the Germanic goddess, Eostre, of Norse origin. Her name was also the inspiration for the Christian name, “Easter,” and for the name, “Ostara.”

Eostre is the goddess of springtime and is always represented with blooming flowers. She is often depicted carrying a hare, which symbolized fertility.

Eostre, via MyGodPictures.com

Eostre’s first appearance in primary sources in when the Venerable Bede tells us that April is known as Eostremonath, named for a goddess that the Anglo-Saxons honored in the spring. 

Thoughtco.com

I found it interesting that the goddess Eostre doesn’t appear in Germanic mythology. It is thought that she was a Norse deity but she doesn’t show up in the poetic or prose Eddas either. (Thoughtco.com)

It is possible that Eostre was a tribal goddess followed by one or more groups in Germanic antiquity. That would explain how her stories were passed along through oral traditions. People looked forward to the changing of the seasons, and spring literally meant rebirth to the ancient peoples.

Author Jason Mankey writes:

“The most likely “historical Eostre” is a localized goddess worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons in present day county Kent in Southeastern England. It’s in Kent where we see the oldest references to names similar to that of Eostre … It’s recently been argued that perhaps she was a Germanic Matron Goddess. Linguist Philip Shaw … links a localized Eostre to the German Austriahenea, a matron goddess connected to the East … Was she worshipped throughout Europe as a goddess of the Spring? That’s pretty unlikely, but she’s most likely related to other deities and yes, perhaps other Indo-European goddesses of the dawn. There’s nothing to suggest that she threw colored eggs out to people and walked around with bunnies, but deities do evolve.” 

Looking For the Goddess of Ostara/Easter: Jason Mankey

Whenever you discuss the origins of Ostara, the association of the hare as Eostre’s spirit animal or totem always come up. Some will infer that Eostre takes the form of a hare or even has the head of a hare.

Hare: Image by David Mark from Pixabay

“There are associations in English folklore between hares and the Christian festival of Easter. For example, in 17th century Southeastern England there is evidence of a custom of hunting a hare on Good Friday, and in 18th century Coleshill there was a manorial custom in which young men tried to catch a hare on Easter Monday. [9] There is no reason to believe that such customs go back to pre-Christian times. The Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore bluntly states: “Nowadays, many writers claim that hares were sacred to the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, but there is no shred of evidence for this.”[10]”

© A. Æ. Hunt-Anschütz of manygods.org.uk

So, after my research, it appears that what we think we know about Eostre the goddess, is pure speculation. However, there is another goddess associated with spring.

Vesna, Slavic Goddess of spring & Fertility

In the Slavic tradition, Eostre was known as Vesna. A happy and cheerful goddess, Vesna was also the goddess of victory as Spring represents a victory over the cold weather by bringing forth new life after the long winter. You can imagine how popular Vesna was with the people. Her appearance signaled the return of the light after the darkness. (Vesna, Slavic Goddess of Spring {Tara Reynolds})

Until recently, the people celebrated Vesna on the Spring Equinox in March by dancing and singing in her honor. People carried clay figures of birds decorated with flowers to the field. It is believed that Vesna resided in the mountains.

I’ve really connected with the spirit of Vesna, and I even live in the mountains of Colorado. (It must be my Slavic heritage). To honor this goddess, you can decorate your altar with flowers. This year, I’ve taken it a step further…

My daughter, Amy, who lives in Florida has been sending me seeds from her garden. She appears to have inherited my hedge witch tendencies. Her idea was for us to garden together – long-distance!

I saved the throwaway plastic containers from produce and poked holes in the bottom for drainage. The bowls will also help to keep the soil warm, along with providing a place for the water to drain.

I filled the containers with seed starter and let them drain well in my sink. Then, I selected four seeds to plant in each container. I even remembered to label each one so I would know what was growing.

I planted black Holly Hocks, Lavender, Lupine Russell, ground cherries, tropical milkweed (for the butterflies), Garlic chives, and dill bouquet.

I have the perfect window for these seeds. My creative room gets sun almost all day. I lined the window sill full of seeds planted the 20th day of March in honor of the Spring Equinox and dedicated to the goddess Vesna.

There are many ways to celebrate Ostara. Do what feels most natural to you. Spring is a joyful time. Have fun!

The Witch of Lupine Hollow, shares some thoughts on how to make this Ostara meaningful to you.

Happy Spring Equinox, Happy Ostara, and Happy Maslenica!

16 thoughts on “The Goddesses Eostre & Vesna; Celebrating Ostara & the Spring Equinox, by Colleen M. Chesebro

    1. Thanks, Jan. I decided to bring Spring into our world this year. I’m so excited about growing from seed the plants my daughter is growing in Florida. Our season is short in Colorado, but it I’m loving it! ❤

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  1. Happy Ostara Sis! Fantastically, informative post on the history and the coincidental? similarities to Easter. I love what you’re doing with the seeds and now you must keep us updated with photos as the new life begins to sprout. ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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